The Commission on America's Nuclear Future Meets on Friday, January 28th at the Hyatt Regency in Downtown Albuquerque

January 27, 2011

The Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future will meet in Albuquerque on Friday, January 28, at the Hyatt Regency Downtown beginning at 8:30 am. On Wednesday they toured the site of the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) in Carlsbad. On Thursday they convened several panels of experts from New Mexico.

In her remarks Governor Susanna Martinez referred to the "good partnerships" at WIPP between the federal, state, county and local government agencies. She omitted to mention, however, the individuals and grass-roots organizations that have been involved in the public decision-making processes for WIPP since the beginning of the creation of the waste dump in New Mexico.

Her emphasis on partnership is misplaced. The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) is not in partnership with Department of Energy (DOE), but is its regulator. In 2003, the Richardson administration recognized the "myth of partnership" and exercised vigorously the regulatory role of the state over the federal government, DOE and its contractors.

Another presentation by David Martin, Secretary-Nominee of the NMED, encourages the Commission to consider the reprocessing of high level waste among its criteria for choosing a site for a new nuclear disposal repository. If such a facility were sited in New Mexico, it would violate the promises of 30 years' standing that New Mexico will not store, dispose, or reprocess high level waste.

Here again the local Carlsbad community is enthusiastic while the rest of the state resists. Don Hancock, of Southwest Research and Information Center, wants proof that geological disposal will work. He observes that such proof requires WIPP to follow the entire trajectory, from opening to closing without incident. He referred to the confidence of the oil scientists in the Gulf of Mexico who insisted they could not have a blowout at depth and yet found themselves in the midst of the biggest environmental disaster in the history of the world.

On Thursday in Carlsbad many local speakers encouraged the Commission to consider expanding WIPP to accept high level waste. This comment is not representative of the state population where in opinion polls from 1980 through the present 81 percent of New Mexicans object to expanding the mission. Forty-six people signed up for comment in Carlsbad mostly in support of storage, disposal, and reprocessing of high level waste.

Joni Arends, of Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, says, "I can't stress too much the importance of this meeting. If you are concerned about these issues and future generations, please make time to attend this meeting."


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